s.a. Godiva n.v.
There's a whiff of chocolate in the air as I approach Godiva's
headquarters/factory in an inner city area about two miles from
downtown Brussels. The word "Godiva" in big letters
near the top of the four-story structure lets me know I've found
the place. The picture accompanying this story shows you it's
not the best of areas as you can see by the graffiti sprayed
on the wall near the entrance.
The snazzy and modernistic reception area is a world away from
the exterior. Glass displays built into the walls elegantly show-off
some of Godiva's product line. Visitors settle down on an orangish-red
sofa or two chairs. On a far wall hangs a painting of a sexy-looking,
six-foot tall Lady Godiva astride a horse (which is the company's
I meet with Mark Adriaenssens, Director-Research & Development/Quality
Assurance Europe. The Draps family founded a chocolate &
sweet-making workshop in Brussels in the 1920's with the first
praline in 1926. Godiva was set up in 1946 and moved to its current
location. About 300 people work in the over 200,000 square foot
Being hemmed in on all sides by housing makes delivering supplies
to the factory a problem. Trucks block traffic while unloading
and loading. Why doesn't the surrounding area raise a stink?
Godiva provides employment for many in this low-income neighborhood.
Depending on traffic it's 25 to 40 minutes to the airport, five
minutes to the nearest freeway and, directly across the street
there's a subway stop. Parking is tight with directors and early
shift workers getting reserved parking spots. Cold sandwiches
are served in the company cafeteria, smoking isn't allowed in
offices (except for a designated smoking room) and there's no
formal dress code with Fridays being casual dress days. Names
of meeting rooms include the Godiva Room and Draps Room (name
of the founding family). Joseph Draps set up the Godiva company
Any employee perks? At work employees can eat all the chocolate
they want for free. If that doesn't satisfy their sweet tooth
then employees get 50% on goodies taken home.
For those of you out there thinking working in a chocolate factory
would be paradise for your nosethink again. The receptionist
has been here for almost 20 years and Adriaenssens for a couple
of years. Though there's that unmistakable sweet scent of chocolate
in the air, neither says they can smell it.
Usually chocolate companies have samples for visitors in the
reception area. I don't see any and ask Adriaenssens why. It
turns out to be an oversight as the receptionist quickly brings
out a tray. Adriaenssens suggests having some but, I decline.
Why? I can't eat just one. Once I start there's no stopping.
I can't see the CEO's office because there currently isn't a
CEO. Godiva is owned by Campbell Soup Company, though for some
reason you won't find that kernel of information on either Godiva's
or Campbell Soup Company's website.
Before heading out the door I'm given a two-pound box of assorted
chocolates. I've never tried Godiva chocolates before and end
up in the evening having a chocolate fest in my hotel room. Every
chocolate in the box is sampled. The verdict? Two thumbs up.
Company website: www.godiva.com